Until telegraph lines spanned the continent in the 1860s, the post office and the press worked together as the most important mechanism for distributing news and public information. Public policy linked these complementary communication agencies; the post office provided free and low-cost news-gathering services for the press as well as subsidized delivery of publications to readers. News in the Mail charts the relationship between the press and post office from colonial times through the Civil War. The book explains why the federal government underwrote the circulation of printed matter and how the postal policies governing public information reflected the cultural tensions of the early and mid-nineteenth century. News in the Mail not only looks at the government's role in disseminating news and promoting communication, but also examines the structure and implications of the early U.S. communication system. This book is a valuable source for those interested in journalism, communications history, the history of federal policies and operations, postal history, and nineteenth-century American social history.